Acupuncture for menopause – a trusted option
Acupuncture for menopause became a popular natural therapy. Here, we will look at why so many women are turning away from orthodox treatment options, such as hormone replacement therapy, and how this natural option can benefit you when menopausal symptoms are interfering with your life.
While some women have no significant issues with the transition from fertility into their menopausal years, others tend to experience unpleasant symptoms that can have a considerable impact on their day-to-day life. Pharmaceutical corporations offer several treatments that can be used to assist in reducing the symptoms of menopause including hormone replacement therapy.
Women who underwent acupuncture reported a significant decrease in hot flashes, excess sweating, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and skin and hair problems.
“Acupuncture a Realistic Option vs HRT for Hot Flashes” Medscape March 2019
Hormone Replacement Therapy As A Treatment For Menopausal Symptoms
The orthodox treatment for women undergoing menopause usually includes a prescription for hormone replacement therapy medication. Different types of hormone replacement therapy treatments are available, each providing specific types of synthetic or sometimes bioidentical hormones in order to compensate naturally reduced hormones in your body.
Estrogen was the first synthetic hormone to be used with hormone replacement therapy and was made available to patients in 1928 as an injectable treatment. Later, in 1942, oral medication was developed containing estrogen to assist in the treatment of menopausal symptoms.
Today doctors also prescribe combination therapy. This option combines estrogen with other hormones that naturally decline with menopause. The idea behind the treatment is to help reduce symptoms like depression, mood swings, irritability, and hot flashes.
While considered somewhat effective for some women, hormone replacement therapy is known to cause a number of side-effects. Some of the side-effects include:
- Tenderness and swelling in the breasts
- Mood changes
- Vaginal bleeding
Hormone replacement therapy is also not considered an appropriate treatment option for women with the existing liver disease and heart disease, as well as those patients who have had a heart attack or stroke in the past. Furthermore, individuals with a history of blood clots and those who suspect that they might be pregnant should avoid using this type of medication.
More serious risks of HRT
HRT has been shown to increase the life-threatening risks of blood clots and certain types of cancer like breast and ovarian cancer. For example, a review in 2015 found that the incidence of ovarian cancer was increased by 43%.
A study published in 2019 found that HRT may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s.
And while not every woman will experience the immediate side-effects when she decides to use hormone replacement therapy, the serious and long-term risks still exist and need to be taken into consideration if you are contemplating the pharmaceutical treatment option.
Read more about these risks on the National Health Services (UK) website.
Another option offered in New Zealand is natural HRT. These are promoted as bioidentical hormones, which means they are more similar to your own natural hormones compared to the synthetic ones.
The problem with Natural HRT is that it has not been well researched. There no good evidence to suggest that is any safer than HRT with synthetic hormones.
What outcomes can you expect from acupuncture for menopausal symptoms?
A study led by the Wake Forest School of Medicine, along with the Duke University School of Medicine, looked at how a series of acupuncture sessions would affect 209 menopausal women between the ages of 45 and 60. These sessions were performed over the course of six months. The study specifically investigated how acupuncture affected menopausal vasomotor symptoms like hot flashes.
Researchers concluded women had experienced a significant reduction in the following menopausal symptoms:
- Hot flashes
- Night Sweats
- Sleep disturbances
- Somatic symptoms
Overall, women also noted significant improvements in their overall quality of life.
The researchers also had a control group, who had no acupuncture but their symptoms were observed. The hot flashes and night sweats got worse over a period of six months.
Following the study, the benefits that the patients were able to experience persisted for a minimum period of six months after they had undergone the 20 acupuncture sessions that were part of the study.
Another study looked at how acupuncture would affect symptoms in women who are naturally going through menopause. A total of 869 participants were included in the study. Various systems were used in order to determine the severity of symptoms experienced by participants prior to and after the study.
Scientists who led the study found that acupuncture helped to reduce the frequency of hot flashes in women who are going through menopause. The severity of hot flashes experienced by the participants who were provided acupuncture also decreased significantly. Furthermore, a number of other symptoms associated with menopause were improved.
Further evidence is also presented in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. In this review, a total of seven studies were analyzed thoroughly by scientists involved in the review paper. Scientists compared symptoms of menopause between studies that included acupuncture and those studies where no acupuncture was conducted. The review also looked at the effects of acupuncture alone and also analyzed the efficiency of the therapy when used as an adjunctive treatment protocol.
Significant improvements were observed in vasomotor symptoms. Quality of life was also improved in these studies. The review concluded that acupuncture for menopause can be used as stand-alone treatment or as part of an integrative treatment plan. It will be effective in either case.